The Italian-language Wikipedia community has overwhelmingly voted to request the Wikimedia Foundation's assistance in recovering wikipedia.it, a website that has been frequently confused with the Italian Wikipedia. While wikipedia.it currently redirects to the Italian Wikipedia, it could be altered immediately by the current domain owner and was formerly an advertisement-laden mirror. With 132 editors in support to just one oppose, the former Wikimedia Italy board member Federico Leva stated that the measure had passed with the largest-ever poll margin on the site.
The public's bewilderment is surprisingly substantial, with Italian-language contributors documenting many instances of the Italian media listing the wrong web address. Even the authorities get confused: according to Leva, when wikipedia.it was a mirror site, the Italian police "seized a page about Roberto Fiore (due to alleged libel) on wikipedia.it rather than it.wikipedia.org ... the actual article was left alone by the police and 'fixed' by the community itself."
One media mistake in January 2009 prompted Italian-language Wikipedia contributors to measure how many people visit wikipedia.it. Their calculation of 43 hits per minute during April 2009, or almost 62,000 per day, measures more than the typical daily hit rate on an English Wikipedia today's featured article. It also comprises a surprisingly high percentage of the Italian Wikipedia's main-page hit rate of 600,000–800,000 per day (in April 2009; the current figures are staggeringly lower—almost universally in the 200,000s—for unknown reasons).
Wikipedia.it purports to be operated by "Associazione Wikipedia Italia", though the site itself is operated by a company named Yepa. This Italian company's Linkedin profile describes itself as a "leading provider of Dedicated and Shared Hosting Solutions" that "offers unsurpassed reliability, redundancy and connectivity to four major internet backbone providers around the world." Yepa appeared to be mirroring Wikipedia while adding advertisements using frames.
The problem stems from the large differences in registering a .org and a .it website. .org was one of the original generic top-level domains. At the time the Italian Wikipedia was started, the suffix would have been granted by VeriSign Global Registry Services, a US company. On the other hand, .it is the country code top-level domain for Italy, and individuals looking to register a website with that suffix must do so with Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, an independent organization formed in 1923 to promote scientific and technological research. It appears that no one registered wikipedia.it in Italy, possibly as a consequence of the ad hoc basis of Wikipedia's operations in its early years. While some attempts were made by Italian-language editors to contact the domain owner in 2004, "official" organizations were either in their infancy or non-existent: the Wikimedia Foundation was not founded until halfway through 2003, and the local chapter followed in 2005.
But with this problem stretching back years—and the unbalanced poll result indicating what Leva called a "state of deep frustration and anger in the community at large"—why ask for the Foundation's assistance only now? The answer lies deep within the Foundation's most recent budget, which allocates US$700,000 for issues related to the Wikimedia trademark (p. 11, footnote iii). The Italian-language contributors hope that a small portion of this will be devoted to the €2–4000 cost of mounting a challenge to domain ownership.
Monthly reports: The Foundation's monthly report has been published on Meta, with highlights also available. In addition, its October engineering report has been placed on Mediawiki, and a simpler summary is available on the same site.
Quarterly review: The Foundation's VisualEditor and Parsoid teams have had their third quarterly review. Notes are located on Meta. Quarterly reviews aim to ensure accountability and allow senior Foundation staff to offer specific guidance to their proliferous and diverse initiatives. This review, in particular, was notable for being the first since the English Wikipedia rejected the VisualEditor (VE). Fallout from this was evident in the meeting's notes, with VE project manager James Forrester saying that the English Wikipedia "can't turn VE off and then demand to be the main focus of development ... it's likely our attention will focus on active users, even if we try to keep the wider focus".
Stub contest: A two-week-long stub contest is being organized by Cas Liber. According to the linked page, "the idea is to focus on expanding as many of Wikipedia's stub articles as possible, particularly the most linked or viewed, and see what the community can do at chiselling away at the huge backlog of articles needing expansion to some significant coverage." There will be prizes in the form of Amazon vouchers.
Nominations open for Arbcom: Nominations for the upcoming Arbitration Committee elections are open. Candidates must meet several requirements and submit their opening statements by 23:59 UTC on 19 November. Seven candidates are running at the present time, while at least three current arbitrators are retiring.
Why all the hate for Wikipedia?: A provocatively titled article in The Kernel examined Wikipedia's strengths along with its limitations, including this amusing quote:
Wikipedia has been an experiment in ideology: the idea that something robust and functional could be built by a large population on a purely volunteer basis. This is the philosophy behind the Star Trek economy, in which nobody is paid but starships are built because individuals simply have a desire to better the human condition. ... / ... What does the actual implementation of Wikipedia teach us about Star Trek-style economics? It teaches us that the Enterprise would never be built, because five million people would volunteer to design the layout of the bridge, and nobody would volunteer to build the toilets.
GLAM: The October GLAM newsletter has been published on Outreach.
South Africans want free access to Wikipedia: As previously covered in the Signpost, a group of South African students have started a Facebook campaign to allow free access on their cellphones. The issue has now been highlighted by a Foundation blog post and a video, seen below.